The longer answer is that I've thought about that a lot since losing both plants in August. The following is the strategy for next season:
- More testing. I going to get an EC soil tester so I can have a better idea of what is in my soil so I can more accurately feed the plant. I've known for years that my fertilizing in the past has been a guess. I've always done soil tests and the last two years did a tissue test. But even with that I've not been sure if I've been under feeding or over feeding (probably under feeding from the research I've been doing). I didn't even know that an EC tester existed until Beni talked about it after popping a big one the season before last. It will take a little work to figure out how to best use the results, but at least I'll have some numbers to work from.
- Grow white. I love an orange pumpkin but I also grow big. As I looked at orange genetics there isn't a ton of seeds that I can get my hands on that grab my interest. Big right now comes from the 2009 genetics and most of those crosses are coming out white to light orange. This next season I'm going to grow a 282 Scherber and a 1415 Scherber. The 282 is a clone of the plant that grow the 2009 crossed with itself. The 1415 is a 282 that was selfed. The genetics are just to good to grow orange.
- A little more late season fertilizer. I don't get great growth in September, so if the EC tester shows it, I will feed the plants more the 2nd half of the season.
- A little higher organic matter. I want more organic matter in my soil. Not a ton but a few percentages higher than I've had in the past. Some of that will be coming from peat moss.
- More moisture testing. I have an inexpensive soil moisture testing so I'm going to do less eye balling and more testing.
- More biologicals. I'm going to be adding Rootshield to the other biologicals I put down and will use more mykos this season as well.
- Zucchini Plants. I'm going to plant zucchini plants at the edge of the patch to attract squash bugs to in the hopes of getting rid of them before they get to the pumpkin plants.
- Layout of the patch. For the last 5 years I've grown each my plants parallel to each other. This next season I'll be growing the plants perpendicular to each other. This will give me about an extra 60-80 square feet of space and will give me more room for the main vine to grow on north side plant.